Germany-based potash mining company K+S has announced the suspension of production at two mines from 1 December due to a delay in securing regulatory approval for the discharge of saline wastewater.
On 23 November, the company said that the Kassel Regional Council will be taking longer than the expected November 30 deadline to decide over the disposal of wastewater into porous layers of rock, leaving discharge into the Werra river as the only option.
K+S said that against the backdrop of the low water flow in the river and there are limited possibilities for the disposal of saline waste water. It added that full usage of all sites of the Werra plant will not take place from December.
The company plans to suspend production at the Hattorf (Hersfeld-Rotenburg district) and Unterbreizbach (Wartburg district) sites for the time being.
At present, the regulator is working on a solution that would enable a continuation of injection in a few weeks following completion of a detailed technical assessment.
Earlier K+S managing director Dr Ralf Diekmann said: "Depending on the water flow of the Werra river, potash production in Hesse and Thuringia might therefore only be ensured to a limited extent in a few days’ time."
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In April 2015, the company submitted an application to inject an average of up to two million cubic metres per year until 2021-end.
K+S’ application included expert opinions and external position papers on protecting groundwater and drinking water as well as environmental monitoring.
Image: The 17t diesel loader in K+S mine. Photo: courtesy of K+S Aktiengesellschaft.